Published: Sat, September 16, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Modi to inaugurate world's second biggest dam on his birthday

Modi to inaugurate world's second biggest dam on his birthday

His visit, which has added significance as the Assembly elections are due in Gujarat by year-end, is the second in less than a week after he hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe here and launched the Bullet train project.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Sunday dedicate to the nation the Sardar Sarovar Dam on river Narmada, described as Gujarat's lifeline by BJP leaders, at an event coinciding with his 67th birthday.

Thereafter, Modi will attend the closing ceremony of "Narmada Mahotsav", and address a gathering at Dabhoi. Later, the foundation stone for the Sardar Sarovar Project was laid by country's first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 5th April, 1961.

Three months back, the Narmada Control Authority had approved closure of the dam's sluice gates to let the water level rise to its full height of 138.68 metres. Convenor of the National Alliance of People's Movement Arundhati Dhuru, whose organisation participated in the protests, alleged that the dam's gates were closed to ensure that Modi sees the reservoir filled with water. Modi will visit the site of "Statue of Unity", created to be the world's highest, being built to commemorate Sardar Patel's contribution in uniting 565 erstwhile princely states at the time of India's Independence.

The Sardar Sarovar project is the biggest dam in terms of volume of concrete used in it.

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Government sources claim that irrigation from the project is expected to benefit about 10 lakh farmers and drinking water to be supplied to various villages and towns, is likely to benefit up to four crore people. The official informed news agency IANS that the 1.2-km-long dam which is 163 metres deep has till date produced 4,141 crore units of electricity from its two power houses - river bed powerhouse and canal head powerhouse - with an installed capacity of 1,200 MW and 250 MW, respectively.

57 per cent of the electricity produced from the dam goes to Maharashtra, while Madhya Pradesh gets 27 per cent and 16 per cent goes to Gujarat. Medha Patkar-led Narmada Bachao Andolan took the government to the Supreme Court over environmental and rehabilitation issues, and obtained a stay in 1996.

The project has been mired in several controversies ever since its foundation stone was laid.

The construction of the dam was not exactly smooth.

The court allowed resumption of work in October 2000.

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